update In response to health industry concerns, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is planning a model healthcare community where it will show providers and software vendors how its new e-health systems work in practice.
The model community would be based at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in South Melbourne, where it would provide practitioners and software vendors with the opportunity to test the soon-to-be-introduced voluntary national healthcare identifier system, according to NEHTA clinical lead Dr Nathan Pinskier.
Negotiations for the model healthcare community were being finalised with the college, he said. "If the college is unable to commit to a deal, then NEHTA remains committed to develop a model community in Melbourne and would consider other sites."
Healthcare software vendors had previously complained about the lack of information they had been given about being compatible with the planned healthcare identifiers — individual numbers to be assigned to all Australians.
The Australian reported the Medical Software Industry Association saying that its members were yet to see a working demonstration of the system.
Currently, a demonstration centre is housed at Medicare Australia in Canberra. It is, however, only showing slides on PCs as opposed to working software.
Come 1 July — if necessary e-health legislation is passed — each Australian using a Medicare card will be assigned an identifier which will be used to tag the patient's health records.
Healthcare providers do not have to use the software or participate; however, NEHTA hopes to encourage healthcare providers to participate by showing them the benefits of doing so through the model healthcare community.
The model healthcare community would stay in place at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners for six months, Pinskier said. "It's going to become a primary research and educational development centre," he said.
"We're going to invite vendors and other stakeholders to come through, work and pilot and test the software so that over the next three, four, five, six, seven months the products will be fit for the purpose."
Pending legislation, the systems will be implemented outside the model community in a pilot which will span six states. Other healthcare providers not involved in the pilot will also be encouraged to implement the systems.